UW iSchool & Microsoft include people with disabilities in user studies

In an ongoing collaboration led by UW Ph.D. student Abdullah Ali, his advisor Prof. Jacob Wobbrock, and the Microsoft Ability Group’s Meredith Ringel Morris, we are building an online platform, CrowdDesign, that enables remote participation in usability studies to support more diverse participants, particularly people with disabilities, since it can be challenging for some people with disabilities to travel to an in-person study and since this can enable reaching people who aren’t in one’s immediate local area.

Paul G. Allen School & Microsoft recreate art

The “Eyes-Free Art” project explored using the Kinect to create new art museum experience for people who are blind. The collaboration between Kyle Rector, a UW student and Microsoft Research (MSR) intern and MSR produced a research paper and research video, and the project then led to a professional art installation by the blind artist Keith Salmon called The Oregon Project. Kyle is now a professor at the University of Iowa, and was an AI for Accessibility grant recipient for her work on AI-powered fitness support tools for people who are blind.

UW iSchool & Microsoft

Martez E. Mott, while pursuing his Ph.D. at the UW Information School under the supervision of Prof. Jacob O. Wobbrock, was instrumental in developing Smart Touch — technology that makes it easier for people with motor impairments to use touch screens. Dr. Mott is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Ability team at Microsoft Research, where he focuses on making virtual and augmented reality systems more accessible to people with limited mobility.

A shared commitment to expanding the pipeline

“Our collaborations with Microsoft yield both short-term and long-term results. Right away, we create a strong, inclusive hiring pipeline and workforce training; and at the same time, we change the landscape of industry by infusing an inclusive perspective into companies in Seattle and beyond.”

Dr. Richard Ladner, Professor Emeritus of Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering; AccessComputing Principal Investigator

These collaborations include: 

  • AccessComputing, an NSF-funded UW center featuring Microsoft as a key industry partner. The center has trained 1,000+ students with disabilities in computing fields. To date, UW CSE students have had 40+ internships at Microsoft, resulting in more than 20 students being hired.
  • TeachAccess: Through this industry-led national program of which UW is a member, Dr. Ladner led five UW engineering students on a tour of accessibility groups at multinational companies across the country.